Duval Teachers United

Points of Interest: A Difficult Road for Your Right to Join Teacher Unions

March 29, 2021

We’re in this Together!

Florida is a “right to work state”. Florida workers currently have the right to join unions or chose not to join unions. Educators have always freely exercised their right to join or not join their union. The Florida Legislature, however, has always had a healthy fear of teacher unions because they organize educators and represent teacher issues and rights.  As a result, legislators have attempted to dismantle educator unions by passing unneeded legislation to address perceived issues that don’t exist. This year SB1014 is such a law. This bill applies more rules, hoops, and procedures for membership making the operation of educator unions and their very existence more difficult. An added caveat would decertify local unions for non-compliance to the new laws. Please note that we said “educator unions”. This legislative effort has been directed ONLY at educator unions, not fire-fighter or police unions.

What SB 1014 Would Do:

This Bill does not strengthen any union rights. Instead, it seeks to impose government interference in your right to join your union. These restrictions only apply to educator unions in Florida and no other Florida unions. Here are the specifics of the bill. This bill would require the following:

  • Members would need to rejoin their union every year creating unnecessary paperwork and costs along with potential breaks in your membership services even when you want to remain a member.
  • Any higher education union must be over 50% membership or be automatically decertified.  This is currently in place for K-12 instructional units and only applies to education unions and no other unions. This means that if at least 50% of eligible educators do not join the union, the union is decertified for all.
  • Your local union must turn over members’ names and information to the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) if requested.  Some members currently pay cash in order to avoid their administrator or others from knowing they are a member. This bill could lead to the removal of the option to keep union membership anonymous.
  • Notwithstanding the provisions of Chapter 447 relating to collective bargaining, an employee organization whose dues paying membership, as of December 31 of that renewal period, is less than 50 percent of the employees eligible for representation in the unit, must petition the Public Employees Relations Commission pursuant to s. 447.307(2) and (3) for recertification as the exclusive representative of all employees in the unit within 1 month after the date on which the organization applies for renewal of registration pursuant to s. 447.305(2). The certification of an employee organization that does not comply with this paragraph, would be  revoked.
  • Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 447.303 relating to dues deduction and collection, an employee organization that has been certified as the bargaining agent for instructional personnel may not have its dues and uniform assessments deducted and collected by a district school board from the salaries of instructional personnel. Instructional personnel who are represented by an employee organization must pay their dues and uniform assessments directly to the employee organization that has been certified as their bargaining agent.

This means that union members may no longer have DCPS payroll deduction for union dues, even though they will maintain the freedom to have other numerous items deducted from their payroll. Educators currently are given the freedom to choose what to have deducted from their paycheck (health insurance, other insurance deductions, United Way donations, union deductions, etc.) This bill removes that freedom for educator union membership deductions only.

  • Beginning on August 1, 2021, and each August 1 thereafter and before the employee organization can collect dues or uniform assessments from any instructional personnel for the upcoming school year,
    • the employee must sign and submit a form to the employee organization acknowledging that Florida is a right-to-work state.
    • The form must contain the following acknowledgement in bold letters and in at least 14-point type: Florida Senate – 2021 COMMITTEE AMENDMENT Bill No. SB 1014 Page 4,

“I acknowledge and understand that Florida is a right-to-work state and that union membership is not required as a condition of employment. I understand that union membership and payment of union dues and uniform assessments is voluntary and that I may not be discriminated against in any manner if I refuse to join or financially support a union.” Why this is necessary is unclear. Educators can’t be forced, under penalty of current law, into union membership in Florida.

The Legislators have not established the need for such measures. The measures serve to disrupt the membership and dues collection process. This bill WILL NOT PREVENT YOU FROM JOINING YOUR UNION, but serves to complicate the process by:

  • Making DTU have to find and pay for an alternate method of collecting dues.
  • Providing a limited window for DTU to have all its members re-join each year or face union de-certification. De-Certification means that the union is abolished.

DTU will fight to get through this with your help. We will not let them win and silence our voices. That is not an option! If legislators are successful in passing this legislation the following will be lost:

  • Collective Bargaining for salaries, benefits (free health insurance), working conditions and employee rights
  • The filing of grievances by the union
  • Representation at employee disciplines
  • The right to serve on district committees impacting district policy such as: Code of Conduct, Insurance Committee, Calendar Committee, Paperwork Committee
  • It will be much easier for the district to implement their policies and restrictions whether or not they are in the best interest of employees

DTU will continue to track this bill and keep you informed of its progress. Please watch your email for DTU updates.